A new service for mums, dads and families with new babies in St Helens


Parents in St Helens can access a Building Attachment and Bonds Service (BABS) in the area for the first time as part of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust’s early years support for children and families.

BABS, jointly funded by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership and St Helens Council, provides support to vulnerable families, women and birthing partners who are pregnant and in the early weeks after the baby is born.

“In BABS we believe relationships are everything and the most important relationship is between parent and child, we need to support our vulnerable families in the community,” explained Dr Lisa Marsland, Mersey Care’s Consultant Clinical Psychologist.

“Most people want to be the best possible parent they can be to their baby, but life is hard for many families and sadly things get in the way. We can support parents to separate out their own past parenting experience, issues and struggles from their relationship with their baby so they can be the parent they want to be.”

BABS offers therapy and support, for pregnant women, new parents and partners, who struggle with their emotional wellbeing, or other vulnerabilities, and have concerns about their bonding and relationship with their baby. Sessions may take place in the family home or in the local Family Hubs in the community.

The service is open to pregnant women and birthing partners who struggle with their emotional wellbeing, other vulnerabilities such as the loss of parent, addiction, domestic violence or leaving the care system, and may find things hard. More than 70 percent of families have experience of these adverse life experiences and BABS’ interventions have had a positive impact on relationships and child development.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell, who oversees the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, said: “There is clear evidence that the first 1,001 days of a child’s life are critical to their development, wellbeing, and life chances.

“That’s why the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership works closely with our partners to act early to support the most vulnerable families in our communities, even while a woman is pregnant. The BABS service has already been shown to make a difference in Sefton and Knowsley, so I am delighted we are now able to roll this critical service out in St Helens.

“Through this service, we are focused on supporting parents to build secure, loving, strong family units which are empowered to tackle and overcome negative life experiences to build brighter futures.”

Councillor Nova Charlton, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Our council-run family hubs and children’s centres are the perfect environment for parents to build relationships with their babies and young children. Having attended a number of events and activities recently, it’s heartening to see first hand the strong bonds that come out of them. 

“Being part of the BABS service will help even more parents, who may not have had the best of experiences in the past, develop that special bond with their children and help us as a council achieve our main priority of ensuring all children and young people have a positive start in life.” 

More information about St Helens’ BABS service can be found by speaking to your GP, midwife, early help worker or any other professional who is supporting you. They will be able to refer you to Mersey Care’s services if they think we can help.

An initial home visit will take place within four weeks of the referral being accepted. Mersey Care welcome telephone enquiries to discuss suitability prior to referral on 0151 351 8801, while referrals can be sent to [email protected]

Mersey Care also offers specialist parent infant mental health training and consultation to multi-agency professionals locally, in addition to the clinical support they provide for families.

Mersey Care also has BABS teams in Knowsley, Halton and Sefton.

Please click here for more information about St Helens BABS

What is the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership?

In total, 20 Violence Reduction Units (VRUs) have been established across England and Wales to help deliver the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy to tackle knife and gun crime and homicide.

Police and Crime Commissioners lead on commissioning these multi-agency units in their areas, bringing together strategic partners to deliver system-wide interventions to prevent and reduce crime.

In Merseyside, we renamed our unit to the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) because we believe the word ‘partnership’ reflects the way we work and approach this challenge.

The VRP brings together Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, local government, National Probation Service and the county’s Youth Offending Service, health and education professionals, community leaders and other key partners.

Find out more about the work of the MVRP on their website